A FORMER assistant editor of left-wing news website Evolve Politics has spoken out against the organisation and has warned others “not to trust them an inch” describing a culture of unethical fake news and describing the Editor of the site as a “Hypocrite.”
Until August 2017 Alex McNamara was the Assistant Editor of Evolve who made a positive impact often working tirelessly through the day and night for little financial reward.
“Evolve Politics is run by a young couple who basically know bugger all about anything outside their own very limited life experience. “
In a blog post on his blog “Mac’s Mouth” Alex says: “Until very recently, I was a writer and Assistant Editor for a left-wing publication called ‘Evolve Politics’. I’d written for them since February, and after making a positive impact, I was asked to be an Editor in May. I worked for the publication tirelessly, often through the day and night, and for very little financial reward. In fact, it was me raising the issue of remuneration that resulted in Evolve seeking out sponsorship so they could begin paying their writers a vaguely feasible wage. Something they subsequently got – in part – off the back of a piece I wrote that went viral to more than a quarter of a million people and was listed in several newspapers.”
In August, Alex was fired from the site for commenting on Evolve’s Facebook page under a pseudonym. Which Alex describes as “a deliberately comic and ‘potty-mouth’ satire account I run based on the character ‘Malcolm Tucker’. [A Character from The Thick of It]”
Alex claimed that the only person who knew of the parody account was the man in charge at the site, Tom Rogers.
“The guy in charge at Evolve even knew it was me because I’d told him: it was in no way connected or affiliated to the publication. I simply took on a ‘troll’. It honestly never occurred to me that the boss would be ‘holier than thou’ as to reprimand me for bad language (that wasn’t particularly offensive anyway) from a private account, let alone an anonymous comment in defence of our own team. In fact, he went a step further.”
Alex says that Tom Rogers wrote a post effectively outing his pseudonym, dramatically apologising for his “appalling” behaviour. In other words, he played the hero to parade his own ‘integrity’, and sold out someone working for him simply to court the praise of trolls.”
Alex told the ‘Editor-in-Chief’ (Tom Rogers) that his reaction to his Facebook comments was unnecessary and actually very disrespectful, and added that “he behaved like the worst kind of man-child I’ve experienced in 38 years.”
“He just blocked me on Facebook – my only method of contact. Removed me from website admin, closed down my Evolve WordPress account, including locking me out of all my articles; he virtually spat in the face of six month’s work. Refused to speak to me, terminated my income without a second’s thought – when I was only just beginning to make ends meet after more than a year of writing knowing that Alex had a four-year-old child to support, for the record.”
“What a great example of ‘socialist ethics’, What a truly remarkable way to demonstrate how things should be ‘fair’, how people at the top shouldn’t abuse their power, or behave irresponsibly without accountability.”
“But my demise within the organisation stemmed from previous run-ins. See, there is a dark secret concerning this ‘influential’ left-wing news outlet.”
Alex says that the organisation lacks any “journalistic integrity whatsoever”
The Man Behind Evolve: Tom Rogers
Evolve Politics is run by a man named Tom Rogers and Alex said that Evolve’s owners “take the lion’s share of all revenue from all articles, leaving their writers with pitiful fees – and then preach of ‘socialism’. They are frankly everything they claim to oppose.”
Alex says: “I never met Tom, nor would he speak to me on the phone – he remains entirely anonymous for ‘official’ purposes regarding Evolve. He says it’s due to debilitating illness. Out of respect and sympathy for this condition, whatever it is, I gave the issue a wide berth – letting a lot of his weird behaviour go. Including his sleeping all day/being up all night, his drinking binges, his forgetting of entire conversations, his frequent hypocrisy, not to mention his completely ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ temperament. But frankly, being ill doesn’t give you the right to behave like an asshole. Or assume you can get away with it.”
Unlike The Canary, which is run by experienced journalist Kerry-Anne Mendoza, or even publications like SkwawkBox and AnotherAngryVoice, which are run by knowledgeable individuals with worldly perspectives, Evolve Politics is run by a young couple who basically know bugger all about anything outside their own very limited life experience. They are simply two hypocritical and petulant kids, who’ve become experts at grumbling and whipping up viral memes.
Alex said that “Ironically, even the slogan Evolve Politics have coined on their header is ‘fake’:”
“Jim Waterson [BuzzFeed News UK’s Political Editor] never said a quote referring specifically to Evolve. He referred to a string of left-wing websites, among which Evolve were one. Tom took the comment out of context, twisting it to boost his own publicity. (Oh the irony.)”
“Bottom line? Tom does not stand by any of his work. He instead hides behind his girlfriend Jess – who’s officially in charge, [named Evolve Media’s Company director in official documents] but actually does little. (If anything.) Her qualification is she’s apparently got an English degree (something she often liked to remind me, like I was supposed to bow in awe) whereas Tom has no qualification at all, as far as I’m aware.”
“His anonymity allows him to share Evolve’s pieces as a supposed ‘neutral’ reader all over social media, and ironically, comment anonymously whenever he sees fit. He also argues with readers all the time, but just deletes the comments if they’re too clever and/or show him up – I saw it for myself.”
Alex says that Tom writes for Evolve under several pseudonyms, including ‘Summer Winterbottom’, ‘John Corr’, and ‘J.D McGregor’ – basically to make the coverage and contributions seem more varied.
CULTURE OF FAKE NEWS
Alex revealed that only days before, He’d been contacted by a former colleague at The Canary who informed him that they were running a story directly calling out something Evolve had covered concerning an alleged ‘suicide bomber’ and threats made by the ‘Cornish Republican Army’
“It was apparently hyperbole nonsense: something more than a few of our readers had responded to say:”
I myself wrote the piece. But here’s the crucial detail: I was actively INSTRUCTED to write it – by Tom. Literally given the sources to use, and Tom chose the wording of the headline down to the very last detail. (That’s pretty much his main involvement at Evolve: to make memes, and decide which angles get plugged/how they’ll be spun.) At the time of publishing, I was actually told off for trying to reduce the scandal/click-bait factor.
But I did take the claim by The Canary seriously. I believe in truth and accountability. So I advised we should investigate, and issue a retraction/apology if necessary. The Editor’s response? That it ‘didn’t matter’. That The Canary’s story probably wouldn’t gain any traction:
It was a shameless and quite appalling reaction.
Alex says that Journalistic integrity matters. Especially for those who want to report from Parliament.
“Mistakes happen, but no-one with any sense of ethics should recoil from retracting them, or owning up to mistakes. In a nutshell, their hypocritical and self-styled intention to ‘Evolve Politics’ is a complete sham. Evolve are, in fact, no better than the worst of the manipulative right-wing MSM publications they spend so much energy decrying.”
“Those publications at least have to follow some level of due process though – both in terms of journalistic accountability, and employment practice. Another final straw for me, was recently seeing Tom post an article under one of his pseudonyms, haranguing The Sun for an article they’d retracted”
At the absolute peak of his pomposity, Tom postures over how noble his organisation is… yet again. Jeers at the tabloid for having to retract their mistake – eg: something he certainly didn’t have the decency to do himself. I found it pretty sickening. You know when The Sun show up another organisation’s lack of ethics, it’s in trouble.
“Tom was also outraged by supposed ‘slander’ when Evolve were accused by Media Guido of sharing an incorrect ‘D-notice’ story regarding Grenfell Tower. He put grand gestures all over social media, asking lawyers to get in touch, saying Evolve were going to sue for defamation etc. Trouble is, the claims were NOT wrong. Team members at Evolve HAD in fact shared the false ‘D-notice’ story. They’d just deleted it before anyone noticed. Yet again, Tom just wanted to look far nobler than he actually was, even if it meant taking hypocrisy to a whole new level.”
“Apparently for Tom, his team member’s free speech and bad language were worth apologising for, even from an unconnected source. Even due a grand gesture of ‘apology’. But researching and/or apologising for his own categorical misinformation and manipulation of news was not.”
“Says it all really,” Alex said. “Tom prizes his own sense of ‘offence’ as being more important than actual truth – the very definition of a ‘snowflake’, for all intents and purposes.”
“My impressions of these young ‘socialists’ admittedly became skewed quite early on, when in a three-way chat with Tom and Jess on Facebook, one of them glibly mentioned: “hating their dad and waiting for him to die, at which point they’d be rich.” Again, ethics at their very finest.”
Regarding that same ‘Cornish Republican Army’ story – and more specifically Tom’s intention to tell it the way he wanted – the same guy who supposedly fired me out of ‘decency and integrity’ also casually ASKED ME TO LIE. Days before, he’d asked me to throw in a made-up source/quote to justify his desired headline – to literally invent one out of thin air.
Alex said it was a request he categorically refused. Adding “See I actually do have a sense of ethics, and common decency.”
Alex put his heart and soul into his work for Evolve – hoping to make a difference.
“I think I was beginning to. I was making waves in all the right directions, and a lot of people seemed to enjoy my style and candour.”
“To have it all whipped away and to be back to square one in a heartbeat – simply down to the petulance of one unhinged guy? Well, it’s actually pretty painful to be honest.”
Alex says that in truth, writing for an organisation that is constantly looking to whip up scandal and/or a one-sided narrative was also pretty painful.
“Things went wrong when I started to challenge the ‘click-bait’ direction and the megalomania of the young chief. I’d supposedly been invited on board at Evolve specifically because of my desire to seek a ‘middle-ground’, to look at both sides of any argument. And also – ironically – my fairly frank writing style.”
Alex says: “But like the ‘snowflake’ he sadly is, Evolve’s Editor-in-Chief Tom Rogers can’t handle any scrutiny or ‘independent thought’ whatsoever.” and adds that “His glorified blog caters for very little more than a howling ‘Corbynista crowd’: there is no nuanced or balanced reporting to be found. And I do say that as someone who actively supports Jeremy Corbyn (on most issues, if not Brexit).”
Alex said that he takes responsibility for “growing levels of intolerance in this country.”
“I see how people like Tom (and even myself, to a degree) have been responsible for the tribalism.”
Alex praised the “couple of decent writers at Evolve.” such as Matt Turner – a recently graduated politics student who Alex described as a “A very intelligent and reasoned individual, and he writes regularly for The Independent.”
“He too is young. and he certainly doesn’t pull the strings at Evolve.”
“He’s frankly just a name to give Tom and Jess’ pet project a level of ‘legitimacy'”
“Yes, this may seem like ‘sour grapes’, but frankly I don’t care. I want anyone and everyone to know the truth and what this new breed of ‘hard leftist’ actually looks like. Because wanting people to know the truth, and fighting for the underdog is why I got into this writing malarkey in the first place. Not so yet more dishonest individuals can exploit hard-working, principled ones.”
You can read more of Alex’s work on his blog